Who wrote that? Automaticity and reduced sense of agency in individuals prone to dissociative absorption

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18 Scopus citations


Dissociative absorption (DA) is a tendency to become completely immersed in a stimulus while neglecting to attend to one's surroundings. Theoretically, DA implies automatic functioning in areas that are outside the focus of attention. This study examined whether high absorbers indeed act more automatically, i.e., with decreased meta-consciousness for, and therefore poor memory of, their own actions, along with reduced sense of agency (SoA). High and low absorbers (N = 63) performed three DA-promoting tasks: choice-reaction time (CRT), Tetris, and free writing. Participants were tested on memory of task details and self-reported their state SoA. As hypothesized, trait DA was correlated with impaired autobiographical memory for self-generated writing. However, DA was not related to episodic memory disruptions in externally-generated content tasks (Tetris, CRT). In most tasks, DA was associated with decreased SoA. Absorbers’ specific difficulty in identifying self-generated content suggests that their memory failures stem from reduced accessibility to self-actions and intentions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102861
JournalConsciousness and Cognition
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2020


  • Absorption
  • Autobiographical memory
  • Automatic writing
  • Automaticity
  • Dissociation
  • Sense of agency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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